Leaders in Tech and Ecommerce

Niklas Hedin CEO of Centiro

September 09, 2020 Season 1 Episode 40
Leaders in Tech and Ecommerce
Niklas Hedin CEO of Centiro
Chapters
Leaders in Tech and Ecommerce
Niklas Hedin CEO of Centiro
Sep 09, 2020 Season 1 Episode 40

Niklas Hedin is an innovator and strategist whose long experience catalyzes the conversation and inspires to get to the next level in business. Based on insights of gaps in the market for Delivery Management which needed new solutions, Niklas founded Centiro in 1998. He brings 25+ years of experience on how to develop businesses using insights and hands-on-experience on supply chain and IT. Niklas' work on scaling an agile organization has rendered recognition in many ways, inspiring others to drive change in times of challenge. He has led Centiro to the forefront of the industry, which has rendered numerous awards and a market-leading position.

Centiro is a global market-leading innovator in cloud-based delivery network management solutions with 350+ employees and 30+% YoY growth. Centiro technology empower marquee brands and finer supply chains in 125+ countries. Centiro exists to enable and empower commerce for companies with winning aspirations who seek to make a difference. Centiro has received numerous awards and honors, including Great Place to Work® Legend. 

Discover more details here.

Some of the highlights of the episode:

  • [08:10] The most important trends in Supply Chain
  • [14:55] What makes Centiro different
  • [19:50] Collaborating with Zalando on their Connected Retail Program of 1800 stores 
  • [25:21] Where is my order? Reducing the customer service workload by 80%
  • [29:21] eCommerce and Returns – Up to 86% of buyers check the returns policy
  • [35:09] Radical Innovation – harnessing the collective power of the team
  • [40:51] Centiro’s culture – heart, mind, and backbone – in that order

Follow us on:
Instagram: http://bit.ly/2Wba8v7
Twitter: http://bit.ly/2WeulzX
Linkedin: http://bit.ly/2w9YSQX
Facebook: http://bit.ly/2HtryLd

Show Notes Transcript

Niklas Hedin is an innovator and strategist whose long experience catalyzes the conversation and inspires to get to the next level in business. Based on insights of gaps in the market for Delivery Management which needed new solutions, Niklas founded Centiro in 1998. He brings 25+ years of experience on how to develop businesses using insights and hands-on-experience on supply chain and IT. Niklas' work on scaling an agile organization has rendered recognition in many ways, inspiring others to drive change in times of challenge. He has led Centiro to the forefront of the industry, which has rendered numerous awards and a market-leading position.

Centiro is a global market-leading innovator in cloud-based delivery network management solutions with 350+ employees and 30+% YoY growth. Centiro technology empower marquee brands and finer supply chains in 125+ countries. Centiro exists to enable and empower commerce for companies with winning aspirations who seek to make a difference. Centiro has received numerous awards and honors, including Great Place to Work® Legend. 

Discover more details here.

Some of the highlights of the episode:

  • [08:10] The most important trends in Supply Chain
  • [14:55] What makes Centiro different
  • [19:50] Collaborating with Zalando on their Connected Retail Program of 1800 stores 
  • [25:21] Where is my order? Reducing the customer service workload by 80%
  • [29:21] eCommerce and Returns – Up to 86% of buyers check the returns policy
  • [35:09] Radical Innovation – harnessing the collective power of the team
  • [40:51] Centiro’s culture – heart, mind, and backbone – in that order

Follow us on:
Instagram: http://bit.ly/2Wba8v7
Twitter: http://bit.ly/2WeulzX
Linkedin: http://bit.ly/2w9YSQX
Facebook: http://bit.ly/2HtryLd

Speaker 1:

Hello, and welcome to the leaders in tech and eCommerce podcast. I'm your host, Andrew Palomar . And I am the APEC director for elk global executive search. Our mission is to connect the tech in supply chain and e-commerce ecosystem in Asia and globally by bringing forward some of the most interesting stories about success and failure from leaders in the industry. I am happy to have with us today. Nicholas heading Nicholas is an innovator and strategies whose long experience catalyzes the conversation and inspire us to get to the next level in business based on insights of gaps in the market of delivery management, we need a new solutions. Nicholas founded [inaudible] in 1998. He brings 25 years plus of experience on how to develop business using insights and hands on experience on supply chain, nit Nicholas work on a scaling. An agile organization has rendered recognition in many ways, inspiring others to drive change. In times of challenge, he has led Centura to the forefront of the industry, which has rendered numerous awards and market leading positions. Cynthia is a global market leading innovator in cloud based delivery network management solutions with 350 plus employees and a 30 plus percent year on year growth scenario technology empowers brands and find a supply chain solutions in 125 plus countries. And Sandra has received numerous awards and honors, including great place to work. Hello, Nicholas, it's a pleasure to have you

Speaker 2:

You're on the podcast today. It's a pleasure to be with you, and it would be great to start with an introduction because I was going through your resume. And I know there are quite a lot of years of experience. I was reading 25 plus years of career experience. I just wanted to know, maybe you can mention some of the main milestones when it comes to your career and what is the most exciting part of being the CEO of Centura ? Well, so first of all, so let , let me just frame few of the key milestones with saying I grew up in an entrepreneurial family. So I was made aware that you could run companies, you could create new ideas and go off on ventures. That that was sort of in my upbringing, I got to run a company about 20 years old. I basically grew that tenfold in a few years, we became the second player in that specific market and the company was sold. I was done. So basically I lost my job in that sense because it was the internal. So that company was sold to the leader. Number one. So basically they bought the customers in some parts of the operation. And I was appointed to run a three PL business for a few years, which at that time, this is pre blockbuster pre Netflix era where we're rental videos turn into sell through. This is pre streaming era. And every media was actually distributed physically. It's almost weird to talk about, but all media consumed was distributed physically in Iran , a what was an embedded three PL operation that distributed videos for some of the leading movie houses, like the Disneys, the paramount pictures, et cetera, all of this world and the Nordics. And this is where I learned a lot of these to learn taught me a lot of lessons on both leadership, how you build organizations really, really fast because that company itself grew tenfold during a period of a couple of years time because cell through market exploded at the time, which also led to the insights that led to the founding of Sotiro a few years later, because there was so many things call it broken that I realized when analyzing what went wrong and the , in the customer experience end of it. I found a lot of disconnected pieces, and this is sorta the Eureka moment, if you will founding center hero , because it turned out that when I started to talk to other operations and carriers, et cetera about this, it was evident that it was new thinking in the field. And that set me up to find found Sincero . And that carrier is as long as it's in years and titles is very short because I've been the CEO since few milestones in my career. But if you look at learnings instead and think about learnings as milestones, there's of course a ton of milestones and they keep coming. So even if it's a lot of years, and yes, I have, I have a fairly distinguished leadership carrier. Now I'm still learning. There's so many things that are exciting and leading to the question about what's most , most exciting about being the CEO of some chiro? Well, most assigning thing is that I don't know what's going to happen tomorrow. And it, it , it really wakes me up in the morning because there's so much energy and pulse and things going on, both in the world challenges. Yes, but also challenges we can turn into positives and my colleagues are absolutely awesome at just that. So I'm waking up every morning, come into the office, watching this organization go, and I'm amazed by what they create. So that's the greatest thing. And most exciting about being the CEO is , is, is watching this organization perform and being hungry about it, being positive about it and being able to be part of it and also feel that you can help nudge them in a direction which makes sense to the marketplace. So not knowing what comes tomorrow is one of the most exciting things.

Speaker 3:

Yes. Uncertainty, uncertainty. There's definitely a motivation factor. And I wanted to note a few things, Nicholas one, I'm curious to find out more about the three PL business. I'm sure there's a lot of learning that you took from that and implemented within the solution that you're offering now it's Indira . And I was also curious, how did the name come about?

Speaker 2:

Well, the name was when you look for a name, you want a name that a , you can register. So w where the company registrars , you, you need a name that they will approve. That's number one. And they disapproved of about a lot of names. So actually I was doing this process for over six months and still couldn't come up with a name that they would accept. And I was, I found myself one day, figuring out what is this about? And I came up with knowing things about the customer's business and having that sense, having that, having knowledge and insight in the customer's business and actually almost better than themselves. So, and so I found a Latin word, which is [inaudible] to sense to understand. And the understanding part struck me and I exchanged the S for a C and the E at the end for an O and suddenly you got sent hero . And I got, I got to check the website names, and if the domain was available, name could be registered and it all fell into place. And, and it's still sort of our core fundament of our businesses is to really understand the customer's business and understand what's going on. That's . So Centura is the core foundation it's in the name

Speaker 3:

And this happened quite some time ago. I was just, I want to double check with you, but it's it's over 20 years ago or is it different?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it almost feels weird in this digital era to talk about something that is 20 plus years old, but yes, 1998 is the founding at time and it's in October. And, but even if there's a lot of legacy, which we are still very modern, so, but we have run with some of the more modern concepts like operating in the cloud. We started in 2001, so operating a cloud based service, it wasn't called that at the time. It was called ASP for those who remember, but, but it's still very early SAS provisioning and cloud operational model. We started in 2001. So even if , if there's a lot of time on the calendar, it's still, we're still pushing the edges. And moving forward from is called technology appetite perspective and curiosity,

Speaker 3:

That's an interesting mention would be the cloud and she will , we'll get to it in a few questions, but wanted to set the scene a bit regarding what's happening now in the industry and want to ask, what do you see because you interact with so many clients I'm sure from all over the globe, different type of clients, different sizes, different industries, are there certain trends that you see in , in supply chain? It can be connected to retail. It can be connected to other distribution networks and it can be impacted. I'm sure in a lot of the trends are impacted because of what's happening with the pandemic crisis. What do you see on the short term, maybe in a couple of months and what you see on the longterm what's happening from a supply chain trends perspective.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. So let's, let's just move ourselves back if you can imagine that to pre pandemic . So we're now in January, February for most of the world, I mean, China was hit at the time, but the rest of the world hadn't really stopped yet or got hit by the pandemic . So we had already, at that time, major trends affecting change. So we had the, the going digital trend digitalization of so many industries in particular retail. Um, but also other industries, of course, but you had consumer behavior drive. You had a lot of things that were changing on a macro level and over the globe simultaneously, almost that was already sort of driving necessity for change in a lot of organizations. And not only on the call , it functional perspective, but really impacting on organizational design strategy. Who are we, what are we supposed to be doing in the marketplace? So really existential questions were already surfaced and a lot of organizations and some of them had already addressed or started to address their new being in this new, new marketplace, the pandemic. And I would say, what that has done is that as fundamentally call it only accelerated what was already happening, but it's , it's put of course on turbo speed. And it , it has become crazy times, but fundamentally, if you look got it, what's going to be the longterm effect of this. So short term, and I will describe this metaphor. So most of them, the folks were running their cars on the highway. And we were in this turn already. That led us to a new direction. We knew that some were ahead of the curve had come a long way and transforming, and some were lagging behind in the curve and we're were challenged and would they survive even, but what you want and then comes a bump in the road, which is the pandemic. It's a large bump. I admit it. It's it's . I mean, it's seriously hurting industries and almost killing industries , still bump in the road scene from a longterm perspective. Now what you want is if you want to run at high speed, through a corner with a car, you need good shock up sobers, because if you don't, you're going to end up going off the road. Right? So translating that into supply chain and agility and the ability to react. I mean, we saw the great ones through the pandemic could switch operational modes. I wouldn't say over the day, but at least at the very, very short period of time, they were able to actually harvest almost the effects of the pandemic because they could transform their distribution networks, their , their supply chain, albeit challenged, like they could still play and they could still serve as the customer. Some were really struggling of course, and were not sort of set up from a call. It organizational perspective. I remember discussion, or my colleague talked about one very large organization where decision-making was a problem in the past. It took time to get decisions made. They were call it firmed up in the organization over a long period of time. Suddenly now during the pandemic, this organization become really, really good at taking decisions. We asked what is, what's the difference? Because you could almost say you could have done that all the time. You could have taken decisions faster all the time. Why did you require a pandemic to make yourself realize you could actually take decisions, quality decisions, and move faster. So I think what's happening in the short term is that definitely all bets are off the table or have became taken off the table with a pandemic . So in the short term, this will mean a and talking to too few of the voices I hear is that there are now scenarios, which basically contains preparedness for things going back and forth. So lockdowns will come and go. They will be regionalized. Probably this is what we see. They are not country spanning. At least not in Europe, they are regional, they are local. They are cluster based, which makes an operational model that needs agility to survive in that landscape. So if you're a retailer, this of course means that you've seen your econ volumes spike. If you were playing an econ , if you were any complainer, you Taylor , you saw your use of growth during this period and quite heavy growth as well. And if you're not able to adjust around that, well, you're going to have a tough time in the short term, because this is going to come and go. We're not going to get rid of the pandemic and any short term and the longterm . It's back to my observation on where we started. So these macro trends will still prevail. We're in this transformation. I believe the gap between the winners and losers call it that it's going to widen because I think in order to service this new consumer that we're seeing, you need to be really good. You need to be well integrated. You need to be digital. You need to be fluent and smooth and all your touch points . And if you're not, you're , you're, you're simply not playing. So I think the marketplace has less space for a semi-good experience than before. And it's going to be more evidence because consumers are going to vote with their feet because all of this has brought huge transparency and where people can source their product and then buy stuff. So that's sort of, it's a long winded answer, but, but at least it has these two instructors in it. You need good. You're good shock absorbers, both in the short term, but they need to stay on for the longterm actually, because the requirement to be agile is here to stay.

Speaker 3:

I'm talking about shock absorbers, right? They are a lot or many times they are associated with technology and also software technology. Having a technology that makes you be ahead of the curve. Of course, tech is combined to having the people to use it, right, but let's, let's start first things first. Now this leads in the next question quite nicely. And I wanted to ask, how is Cynthia different compared to the T to the other players? Maybe you can have a perspective of how is it different now where we have this , this situation where you need these good shock absorbers and you need that perfect or close to perfect experience when it comes to the final .

Speaker 2:

Yeah. So first of all, I think that there is one perspective on how we're different. That remains the same from when we started out. And I'll start with mentioning that, but because kind of leads into other things we need to talk about being different in this world, because I see a fundamental trend that that is called new. If you will, on how you compose both companies and service networks, how you go about provisioning your service, more collaborative, more partner based, more integrated. And so the first key difference is that whereas many software providers look to solve a functional problem that is fairly compartmentalized from a functional perspective, we set out to fundamentally solve a network issue. So we're more network oriented in our view of the world, which means that any function that appears in this network view of the world is relevant. If it's relevant, if it creates value, which means that where other solutions and from a functional perspective. So think about a warehouse and you have a warehouse process. And that sort of process ends at the door of the warehouse. That's when our world starts. And even before that, and it doesn't end until we run through these processes of actually getting stuff to people, services and product, and probably including the returns. So we connect delivery networks, we connect service networks and we're interested to what needs to happen in this world, because fundamentally it's about binding players together and making sure that the information can flow. People can actually do their jobs in this and , and back to the difference then , well, what we're seeing today, not only from the services we provide, but actually what , what, what the market is doing and talking about is that they're composing their service on the basis of many working together. So you have the old model and supply chain where you bought a service from someone like a carrier. You bought delivery services from a carrier, and they basically extended your organization with the functional capability. Now, if you move that to the world of digital and where we are today, you now need to not add only that you need to add several more players, including what used to perhaps be your competition even , or non-competition, but still, if you have a store network, is there another store network you could work together with to fulfill your EAP ? Econ deliveries, for example, a pickup in store CoLab is not unusual these days. That means you're fundamentally creating a service to the consumer, which over spans more than your own assets. Now, if you creating a service promise to a consumer, so you're creating a virtual brand world where the brand experience is exposed to consumer, but the executional part is actually dependent on not only yourself, but the assets of others. And you need to compose that and you need to operate it. You need to make sure it's on top and you need to know that in real time. So that's fundamentally, our job is to make sure you can connect not only the first use case, which is connect the carrier and get delivery networks , uh , executed and done, but actually more strategically, how can you compose this service out of the collaboration of many, and that's where we're different. I would say there are many players out there and they sold functional issues very, very well. And we, I mean, it's competition, it's very healthy competition. Very few though, take this network role it's been written about by, by industry analysts. And I know we're , we're well positioned as a niche player in this, and it's, we're also heavily compared , uh , in , in this sort of category. Some I'm fairly confident that this is one of the key differences is the view of what does this mean in terms of the problem we're solving? What jobs does it give us and what value needs to be created at the end of the day?

Speaker 3:

I think it will be very helpful to take an example of how this works in practice. And I know you have a big portfolio of clients, and I was just looking online. I saw that one of the more recent ones, or at least in, in, in the blog part is Alondo , which is one of your partners. I was wondering what, or how have them, their operations improved by working together with you? Are there certain results that you could share certain numbers? And I'm sure there are certain lessons that have come across from

Speaker 2:

Collaboration. Well, so first of all, I mean, yes. I mean it's, since it is published, I can comment on it. Otherwise it's , it's difficult for us to comment because we're working with world famous brands all the day, but we can't talk about it. But salon is a good example. They're their leading fashion platform in Europe. And they are a platform business in many senses. The consumer facing end is you could view that as web shop, but from an operations and business model perspective, they have so much more. So I'll mention one example, which I can comment, but I'll also mentioned a few examples, which you can read about, but I can't comment how we're participating in it. And if you look at their model, they sign up partners to collaborate with them. So actually they can go sell their product online. Now this model is not new, but how do you actually get that done? So if you combine the logistics capabilities of two companies, how do you actually make that flow? That's one of the questions we were trying to solve and which I think Solando is really good at. So opening up their platform to others and making sure you can collaborate one of their, one of the angles of this, which, which was, which is public in the news, is there sort of program which is called connected retail is how do you, if you're a store in a country, let's take Germany as an example, and you're not large enough to have your own eco operation, et cetera. How can you still become a player selling products that fundamentally otherwise would get competed with from play like Solando ? Well, Salandra has this connected retail program where you can actually sell, call it , sell through their platform. You can become part of their fulfillment engine, if you will. And by using our technology, you can also deliver from that store. So now the 800 1800 stores or so that are part of this connected retail program now become fulfillment points, actually part of the salon , the platform. So this is a perfect example of how Solando expands , call it their brand and includes other plays that are not their own, but become part of this phenomenon. It's creating value for actually three parties. And then also I would imagine the planet, because you could save freight using this. You can actually deliver more locally. You can increase the service levels, of course, because you can stay close, very close to the consumer a much more than Solana could afford on their own. So, and the retailer, the local retail , the store also gets a lot of value. And in the pandemic part, just to mention what Solando did was that they also offered a paying basically essentially on a higher cadence. So you would actually get almost cash or, or paid in advance or paid very frequently to survive during the pandemic. So that was part of their let's try and say retail cause otherwise if we don't, they'll probably dry up and die. We didn't know for how long the lockdown would last at that time. So the pandemic accelerated this connected retail program. And I think, again, I think it's a good example of what a modern, both business model and, and supply chain operation and selling model consumer oriented looks like and how we're actually not only creating value for , for the business parties, but also creating sustainable value center . How do we use less resources, et cetera? I think this is a good example.

Speaker 3:

And Nicholas, your delivery cloud platform came in and sits upon all of this on the ground operations. And it's the brain that kind of orchestrates everything, right? I , I, this is how I imagine it. Of course, I'm sure the details are there. And this helps a lot in the onboarding process of physical stores in , in Sarandos case, is this correct?

Speaker 2:

It is correct. And even though there are more systems to support selling a product, we're a key part of this. And it's even to the point where the onboarding is almost automated. So this is an industrial scale adoption program that , that can, I mean, they're now expanding this program into five countries and , and the onboarding is essentially automated. So, so they can go at the speed of what the stores want to do. It's , there's no limits. And so the technology and everything is set up in such a way that that's , they can onboard as fast as the program can muster.

Speaker 3:

Mm . And you were mentioning that you could share a bit more about a few others, maybe not mentioning names or numbers, but I'm curious are the solutions how Centennial has helped other other clients.

Speaker 2:

So there is a classical example, which is which I think everybody can relate to as the, where is my order. So I, I imagine everyone listening, who are still listening to this have ordered online and looked for their order sometime, and they perhaps have called customer service. Now the average time of a customer service call is about eight minutes. That's the time it takes to service a consumer online or over the phone. Now there are many more channels. Of course, these days chats, et cetera, you can service customers, but let's just take this classical example. If you can do a couple of things to this. So first of all, work with consumer centric notifications, that information during the delivery, which is one of the things we do, if you can then add tool sets to this customer service. So they actually know what's happening. I mean, we have one example, one customer working for, they have to do what they're doing. They have 18 different systems in their landscape. We have customers coming from two systems to eight systems to 18 in this case. So in order to find out what's happened, they have to go through several different systems to find out where is the order that takes about eight minutes in average. So one example is we're applying both notifications. We could reduce the bounce deliveries to almost zero because consumers, this was a home delivery case. We could reduce that to almost dare I say, almost zero, because we could at least drastically improve by making sure timely information is there for the consumer to take action on. So you , you need to basically you need to be at home the next hour or so, because we're going to come to your house that reduces balanced deliveries, which is a huge problem in the, in the retail econ home delivery space. The second example, and comes back to this customer service example. So we've seen examples where you can reduce this time and the workload on the call center, because it's always a pop three questions . So if you go into a customer service operation and analyze, you'll find the where's my order question, top three, I'm ready to take a bat on that. And we've seen examples where we reduce that by 80%. So the workload and the time it takes to service a customer and even making itself . So building capabilities in your, into your web portal, et cetera, that fundamentally takes all the information that that is in your, this is called your control tower and customer service. End of it, taking all the events and information that exists in your supply chain to deliver product to your customer , surfacing that in an understandable milestone operator agnostic way, but more consumer facing and providing timely alerts. Very, very simple, but you can then reduce the customer service time by 80%. We've seen very good examples of that.

Speaker 3:

And I think you mentioned a few things here. One was the importance of efficient customer service. Then you have the delivery platform, that's reducing the bonds deliveries. What I wanted to ask, what is your opinion around the returns, right? The retail returns, especially because there's a big pain, especially for the retail sector, how does your solution help with that? Cause I'm sure there's a lot that you can do

Speaker 2:

Well. So first of all, I imagine that the listeners to this come from various parts of the globe yeah . And returns is contextual. So in Europe, and especially even among countries in Europe, you have different views of, and even legal spaces when it comes to returns, but it's come to kind of a normal and Europe, I would say in the U S it has its own story. I would call it a bit more disconnected in the sense that it was not seen as part of the selling part of the business. It's more like stuck off the back end of a business. I think the more modern businesses of course have a more integrated view on this, but not everyone is there yet. So first of all, let's realize that selling online and even during the pandemic has made returns inevitable, it's part of your business. It's a part of selling the product. It's a part of the service, unless you can accept that and have economic room for it. And the sort of ability, regardless, if you hire us or not the ability to execute on it with precision and scale and fluency, you shouldn't be playing because this will hurt you. Big time returns are, can be very, very expensive and not only is it capital binding, it , it could be value destruction seen as value destruction. We try to see it as value creation moments because fundamentally the consumer views returns as a very, very important thing. As part of the buying process, up to 86%, when we made studies a few years back, consumers will actually look to the returns part before they buy. So that is how important it is. They actually start from the other end. If it's not easy to return, they will consider going to a different retailer. So that's number one, number two, how can we help in this? Well, it's back to this, making it fluent , making sure it's part of the process in a very cold consumer friendly way. I think gone are the days where you , where you , where you can imagine to stop the returns. It's not going to happen. It's fundamental part of selling. You can, of course you can make sure abuse is harder to do so that you don't abuse the returns policy. Now, what we need to, what we're working in right now is the digital version of returns because the returns one dot Oh, was paper-based. We sent a label or still sending labels and packages, and you go with a very physical sort of return process. The newer returns processes are digital, where you can actually apply logic, not, not only at the end. So not only in the history, looking at history, understanding the trends, but actually in the actual return moment itself, who should we value? Who should we give good service to? We know for a fact that you're within the top 10% returners, you have your most valuable customers, and you also have your least valuable customers. How do you distinguish between the two? And this is where technology can help, because fundamentally we can realize that you are likely to return in a specific way if you buy in a specific way. So this is where machine learning and data science and everything can help. Not only sort of in the, in the pure, how do we provide returns portal if it'd be at mobile or on the web, making it easy to input the return and , and honor the returns policy, but how can we actually make this smart and not only look at it from a statistical analytical point of view at the end, but rather make it part of the decision process. So not all customers are there. I'm talking about few visionary things here, but this is where it's moving for sure. And first of all, you need to deal with returns. That's number one. And number two, you need to make it smart unless you're doing that, you're going to get hurt in terms of operational inefficiencies and also too large of a capital binding. So the latest trend is of course, to resell returns in the current market. So you don't bring them back too far. So saving freight , saving work, et cetera. I think this has to do with a lot to do with sustainability as well. And in the meantime, you're providing good service visibility of the return. When do I get my money back? All of those things boil up to crisp digital service that that needs to be good and the execution needs to be crisp underneath. And we, for sure, our system and knowledge can help with that.

Speaker 3:

Hmm . What I note on this necklace is how you pointed, because maybe you don't know without using a good solution who you should pay more attention to, who are your valuable customers and who are the ones that are not so valuable, or even who are the ones who are abusing the system and creating more cost . And then you should, you should take in. And that's quite an interesting sharing

Speaker 2:

And not too many retailers actually measure the combined value from selling to the consumer. So a few years back, it was only a third that actually measured that the true net value. So the S the selling part minus the returns, becoming the value and profitability of that account or customer not everyone's still does that. So if you does , uh , and more are doing it, of course, but only the sheer economics of understanding that it's not only about the selling part, it's actually including the returns. You need to factor that in and who who's then who to your point.

Speaker 3:

Yeah , great . I would like to spend more time discussing this, but I do want to hear more about the culture son before that Nicholas wanted to ask, what is the future? What is exciting as you look ahead in the story of Cynthia , what are some of the milestones as you look ahead and are there any expansion plans in the making

Speaker 2:

Well, so, so to give you an idea of the growth and the speeds , when I went on holiday or took a summer break, we had one number of employees across our operating offices and places where we operate. When I come back, we have grown by 20% or so, and in a few months time, and that's just staggering. It's, and again, that's , it's exciting to not know what's going to come tomorrow. Apparently we're, we're doing something right, because we're growing. I think that , so, yes, there are definite growth plans. We have a lot of interest in what we do. And I think for it's an industry phenomenon and we're part of the industry. So the industry needs to move, and we were one of the ones who can help out with these problems or challenges that we see right now, and we're even preferred in many cases. So that's, that requires growth. The second part of your question is more what the market hasn't seen yet. So part of our company's actually trying to create the future. So things that you haven't seen yet. And I think that's, first of all, we need to realize we live in a data driven innovation era. So innovation does not only come from product or service or et cetera , then there's of course, still innovation to be done on service side. But a lot of it needs to be underpinned by data driven insights. So how do, how do you fund and how do you fundamentally make that algorithm driven real time and to the point. So you are your bumpers back to the road analogy, your bumpers become smart, and they can actually almost look ahead of, of the road and adjust proactively. And what does that solution look like? So that's, we're thinking a lot about that. And, and we have parts of the organization dedicated to not work with what we're doing today, but actually working with what comes tomorrow. So fairly significant investments in innovation, not only throughout the organization, because it's at the core of who we are, what we do, but also so radical innovation. What, what does the future entail? And we see customers doing a, we see ourselves doing a lot is fundamentally very interesting times to be spending in a company. Now, whether it be Sentier or others, because so many new ideas are coming up and the ways to be, it used to be the case in technology. That vision was ahead of technology's ability to do things you could fundamentally dream about things that you couldn't do. Now, we're at a point where technology is actually ahead of the vision. So we're trying to play catch up. I think when I say we it's, all of us who are trying to find applications for the technology, which seems to be able to do anything. And again, all are shared by consumer pressure and also driven by large questions like sustainability, for example, how do we save the planet? We have big problems to solve, and we need to harness this new technology to get us there. And again, we were, we have tasked ourselves with creating the future, not only improving what we already have, but also creating the tomorrow that we all see in necessity for.

Speaker 3:

I really like this analogy or a statement that you mean technology. Now he's ahead of vision. We, we need to force ourselves to imagine what we should use our current technology for, and then not the other way around now, Nicholas , I wanted to go into the , um , teams and leadership and culture segment. And I know you're very passionate about this topic of culture and I, this transcribes into what's happening in the company. Also quite a few accolades, and the words have been rewarded to you. I was reading one, a few statements. One statement was from your LinkedIn, my personal focus and passion is the design and power of the collaborative we type culture. So this element of we type culture and another one was I encouraged to use equal parts heart-mind and backbone by preference in that order, I know it's , it's quite a wide topic. We could spend hours just scratching the surface of it, but please do share how do you define the culture of Centura ? And what's important.

Speaker 2:

That's a great question. It's a big question. I'll try to be crisp and , and invite any listener that wants to dig deeper to both Google a little bit, but also reach out if that , if they want to learn more, we do share our thinking in conferences or podcasts , et cetera, on our culture. We think it is an important element of how to create a better society at the end of the day. So why not try to great companies that people want to work in? We do think that the world becomes slightly better. We do think we can solve problems better. So back to this, we type culture. Part of the question. So my fundamental belief is that I think we've all realized now, if someone hasn't realized that yet they're sleeping on an Iraq , probably, but we have problems to solve out there, which requires collaboration, be it in a sort of company context or a department context, be it in a wider setting companies working together. So we need to collaborate because fundamentally no one single person, company, entity, organization, country even can solve problems on their own. I think the pandemic is a great example because vaccines will not come out of any specific country. They come out of a few of them and it's based on collaborative research efforts. That is super interesting to watch right now, but it's , it's , it's spanning the globe. So my fundamental belief is that we create better value by working together. The second question needs to done become because I realized starting out early, that if you become successful in a job and you want to take a vacation, you can end up in trouble because if you're successful, you requested and you're perhaps not allowed to go on vacation. Even, and companies become brittle when they're built around persons and they become person dependent, that becomes a risk. So it's part of the risking. It's also part of making sure life is livable, if you will. And by solving that first problem, you realize that actually, if you create that weak culture, you can create much, much better results as an organization. And I think we've proven that through measurable units, it was long debated whether or not culture was part of the crime scene in successful companies. I think now it's proven evidence financially, sustainable wise, whatever metric you want to take that good well-run companies in terms of culture are more sustainable arm or profitable. There are good sort of material to prove that. So the longer than answer becomes, how do you build that? Well, back to this leadership idea. So I think the first thing as a leader, it pivots on because I'll come to the , the, the heart-mind backbone through this realization that if we're building a wheat , our culture, it needs to be based on trust. And if it's based on trust, we need to realize the leader's job is not to be the boss's job. So to point at people and to, to have a blame sort of accountable part culture, where you, you need to find someone who's accountable to blame fundamentally at the end of the day, but rather how do we own this together? And it bases itself on trust. So there are two fundamental types of cultures. One is based on trust and the other is based on control. And most of the time you see mixes between the two, but they're typically leaning to one or the other. I'm trying to build a culture, which is based on trust, and then leaders needs to become servants. So servant leadership becomes important when we draw an organizational diagram, it's actually flipped upside down if you will. So leaders are at the bottom. So my job is fundamentally not to, as the CEO, not to decide over other people's desks and go checking over the backs to see if they're doing their job right, because that would fundamentally limit the power of the organization to only my comprehensible knowledge. And that goes for any manager, you put in place , sorry, all managers out there. But if you're not thinking about the collective power of your organization, you are limiting your organization's powers to your own ability to understand what's going on, and you could be the super expert and then congratulations. But most of the time, it , if you, if you don't think about how you can service that organization as a leader and help them succeed, you're probably going to limit them by your own ability. And it becomes siloed and constraint. And I'm trying to think the other way. So how do we actually unleash the power of the organization? Making sure we get the sum of all parts, plus the power of that upgrade that comes with working together, the , the joy and the energy, and then what are then the leadership principles from my side. Uh, again, I'm trying to answer this as quickly as I can. Yeah. Heart-mind and backbone. Those are my three leadership principles. My personal leadership principles leading with heart and backbone means a couple of things. So first of all, heart comes first. So the empathy, the understanding of a person, how can I help you? How can I help you succeed? You , you have your , apparently you came to your job to do something. How do you become successful? And how can I help you in that? How can I facilitate, how can I remove obstacles? You make your life easier, provide you with the right tools, the training, whatever to make you successful, because if you're successful, we become successful as an organization. And then ultimately actually you become successful as a leader too. So heart is worrying about the whole person, seeing the whole person, imagining that actually there's not only the job persona that shows up in the morning. It's actually a life destiny that shows up. What's the story of that person. Are there any innate skills that that person has, that you're not tapping into? Who is this person, how they want to contribute to your success, make it a heart, an empathic conversation about who are you and who is that person? Where do you want to go? And fundamentally, when you're confronted with friction, always move with Hartford , trying to understand within a pathic view, second, his than mine. And that comes with, well , all the so called operational and intellectual aspect of operating a organization or a business. It's making sure you're smart about what you do and knowing the market, knowing the organization, you know , it , knowing where you want to go with things and knowing how to operate it. So it's your , basically your skillset in summary, the sort of intellectual skillset of being able to operate. Then the third part is backbone. So if you now have a value driven core, you know, where you want to take it and you know how to get there. So that's the mind part. How do you protect it and how do you protect your team? So what's the integrity of your leadership. And that's going to get challenged by could be, by our case, it could be, customers could be from within, could be from the outside. And whenever that needs testing, how do you protect your team? How do you make sure that they can rely on you? So you have their back . So I ran a leadership training session with an awesome leadership team. I can't mention who they are, but this shout out to you. And anyway, one of the leaders said, and that released the whole energy in the room is that I've got your back team. This is my job. My job is to have your back. And I think that that released so much comfort and energy and the rest of the leadership team. It was almost, you could touch it. And fundamentally the backbone part is about that. It's about having a promise, a leadership promise, which others can rely on. Who can they look up to? Who can they actually, one , when the wind blows in the wrong direction, the light is turned off. No one is looking and it's hardship down the road. Who can you actually call and rely on that things get done and right way, that's the backbone part. It's knowing that a leader will navigate with the value based comparison and doing the right thing, whatever that, however, that is defined in your leadership. And, but it doesn't work in reverse. So that's the interesting part. So if you try to go back bone, mind, heart, it screws up because you don't have resources . You don't have employees, you have people in front of you. And so for the leaders out there call out to you, go home and figure out is, are you leading people or are you leading resources? Are you leading teams or are you actually leading people? And how , how then engaging with people actually starts with a conversation? How, how are you this morning? And what do you want to do? How can I help you? So it's very, very simple principle. But again, when you do it in reverse, it screws up badly. I think everyone who listens to this can make their own memory references to situations where they got handled, call it in the wrong way or met , encountered in the wrong way, because they met the backbone first. And then they met the mind part. And at the end, either the heart was forgotten or it got remembered two legs, and you burnt a relationship. You, you found another job you quit or whatever happened, but I want to, I want it to be the other way.

Speaker 3:

That's actually very deep. I can feel your passion. I was just imagining how important is this trust element in VA ? If you want to build trust, it's all always starts with the heart. And then you build upon that with the mind, the Piper . And that's a, it's a great metaphor in , in a way to talk about it again, less . I'm sure we needed more time to , to debate and to talk about this, but we are now the end. And I have only one question left just as a piece of advice, because you've , you've gathered so many lessons throughout your career. I was wondering if you would share a piece of advice for a successful career with, with our audience and our audience part senior executives from supply chain who already have quite a good career, maybe they want to make a change. Some of them have been impacted by the current situation. Some of them maybe are at the beginning of the career, but if you were to select a piece of wisdom around creating this successful career, what would it be?

Speaker 2:

I think the short answer is first. You need to ask the question. This is it . This is a deep question. You need to look yourself in the mirror, go to a place where you can actually reflect, move out of your operation and think for a minute or an hour or two or a day. What is success to you? Are you living your professional life in a place where you can define success? Is success only metrics in your job or is success something wider and bigger? So again, we have big print problems to solve out there in your companies and in the world at large. And how do you define your success? So to have a successful career first, you know, need to know what that success is. And I'm sure this has changed. You mentioned senior executive. I'm sure that the version of success has changed during their careers already, but it's perhaps time to think about it again. And once you've thought about that, then you need to ask yourself, am I in the right place? Am I doing the right things? Am I doing it in the way, which I believe is the right way to do it? Is should I start challenging something here? Or should I start to change something? Of course, it's always hard to know for me, right? To wherever who is where and what context, but my chairman of the board challenged me all the time to make basically a plus and minus list. So one of the things you enjoy with the job, what , what are some of the challenges that you see again, having this athlete at your eyes, what is your version of success and what fits and what doesn't, what you have in front of you that gives you a list of things you need to achieve basically. And that also tells you where you need to go. So it's kind of shortcuts and declutters a lot of stuff because you could debate success all day, but fundamentally it needs to connect with your ambition, your heart, your drive, your energy, and ask yourself. When I ask this to students, I asked this to senior executives to entrepreneurs. Do you feel successful? Do you feel engaged? Do you feel energized? Are you happy with a step when you walk in through the door in the morning, or do you feel that as a burden, if you feel a burden, you need to think about what success is and start going in that direction. So again, it's a deep question, but it's what we have time for, but I would start there the finding what success means to you and think about ways to get there and make a list of things that give you energy and drain your energy and make sure the summary is on the plus because you will become successful sooner.

Speaker 3:

I think this type of a process based approach, reflective take time to really consider

Speaker 1:

It and lead with the heart is missing a lot of times. And that creates a lot of unhappiness in the workplace. And I must agree with, with you and actually me personally, I'm planning to go through this kind of process because even if things go well, you it's good to have it constantly. And then to re engage, revisit, make sure you're on the right path , Nicholas, on this note, thank you very much for your sharing it from being here. And for the time I would have loved to spend even more with , we have to be mindful of this, and I appreciate it , and I wish you all the best and good luck with the team and with thank you, Andre. Thank you for having me. And if you , if you want to take another conversation at another time, just give me a ring because we have, I think we have more to talk about. So awesome talking to you today, Andre. Thank you for MIT . I appreciate it. Thank you. Thank you for listening to our podcast for all the show notes and information discussed in the episode, please follow ELCA global.com/podcast. Also, if you found this interesting, please subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Spotify, or Stitcher, or one of the podcast platforms we are looking forward to your feedback.